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Easy Homemade Authentic Barbacoa Recipe

Easy Homemade Authentic Barbacoa Recipe

What is Barbacoa?

what is barbacoa

Barbacoa is a traditional Mexican dish that is typically made with beef, although it can also be made with other meats such as lamb or goat.

The meat is slow-cooked until it is tender and flavorful, resulting in a delicious and satisfying meal.

How is Barbacoa Cooked?

Barbacoa is traditionally cooked by burying the meat in a pit with hot coals and allowing it to slow-cook for several hours.

This method of cooking gives the meat a unique smoky flavor and tenderizes it to perfection.

Can Barbacoa be Made at Home?


While the traditional method of cooking barbacoa may not be feasible for most home cooks, there are several ways to make delicious barbacoa at home using more accessible cooking methods.

Ingredients for Homemade Barbacoa

ingredients for homemade barbacoa

To make homemade barbacoa, you will need the following ingredients:

1. Beef Cheeks

Beef cheeks are the most traditional cut of meat used for barbacoa.

They are incredibly tender and flavorful when slow-cooked, making them the perfect choice for this dish.

2. Dried Chiles

Dried chiles are the key to adding depth and complexity to the barbacoa sauce.

Ancho chiles and guajillo chiles are commonly used in barbacoa recipes.

3. Garlic

Garlic adds a wonderful aroma and flavor to the barbacoa sauce.

Use fresh garlic cloves for the best results.

4. Onion

Onion provides a sweet and savory flavor to the barbacoa sauce.

Use a yellow or white onion for this recipe.

5. Cumin

Cumin is a spice that is commonly used in Mexican cuisine.

It adds a warm and earthy flavor to the barbacoa sauce.

6. Mexican Oregano

Mexican oregano has a slightly different flavor profile than Mediterranean oregano.

It adds a unique and aromatic taste to the barbacoa sauce.

7. Bay Leaves

Bay leaves are often used in slow-cooked dishes to add a subtle herbal flavor.

They are a great addition to the barbacoa sauce.

8. Lime Juice

Lime juice adds a bright and tangy flavor to the barbacoa sauce.

Use freshly squeezed lime juice for the best results.

9. Salt and Pepper

Season the barbacoa sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

This will enhance the flavors of the other ingredients and bring out the natural richness of the meat.

Step-by-Step Instructions

step by step instructions

Follow these simple steps to make homemade barbacoa:

1. Prepare the Meat

Trim any excess fat from the beef cheeks and cut them into large chunks.

Season the meat with salt and pepper.

2. Prepare the Sauce

In a blender or food processor, combine the dried chiles, garlic, onion, cumin, Mexican oregano, bay leaves, lime juice, salt, and pepper.

Blend until smooth.

3. Marinate the Meat

Pour the barbacoa sauce over the meat, making sure it is well coated.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight for the best flavor.

4. Slow Cook the Meat

Transfer the marinated meat and sauce to a slow cooker.

Cook on low heat for 8-10 hours, or until the meat is tender and easily shreds with a fork.

5. Shred the Meat

Remove the meat from the slow cooker and shred it using two forks.

Discard any excess fat or gristle.

6. Serve and Enjoy

Serve the shredded barbacoa meat in warm tortillas with your favorite toppings such as diced onions, chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.


Tips for the Best Homemade Barbacoa

tips for the best homemade barbacoa

Here are some tips to ensure your homemade barbacoa turns out perfectly:

1. Use Beef Cheeks

Beef cheeks are the most authentic and flavorful cut of meat for barbacoa.

If you can't find beef cheeks, you can use other cuts of beef such as chuck roast or brisket.

2. Toast the Dried Chiles

Before blending the dried chiles, toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few seconds on each side.

This will enhance their flavor and aroma.

3. Adjust the Spice Level

If you prefer a milder barbacoa, remove the seeds and membranes from the dried chiles before blending them.

For a spicier version, leave them intact.

4. Slow Cook for Maximum Flavor

Slow cooking the meat allows the flavors to develop and the meat to become tender.

Resist the temptation to cook it on high heat for a shorter amount of time.

5. Double the Recipe

Barbacoa freezes well, so consider making a double batch and freezing the leftovers for future meals.

Simply thaw and reheat when ready to enjoy.

Health Benefits of Barbacoa

health benefits of barbacoa

Barbacoa can be a nutritious and healthy meal option when prepared with lean cuts of meat and served with wholesome ingredients.

Here are some potential health benefits:

1. High in Protein

Barbacoa is a great source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues, supporting immune function, and promoting satiety.

2. Rich in Vitamins and Minerals

Beef is a good source of essential vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, and B vitamins.

These nutrients play a crucial role in various bodily functions.

3. Low in Carbohydrates

Barbacoa is naturally low in carbohydrates, making it a suitable option for those following a low-carb or ketogenic diet.

4. Gluten-Free

Barbacoa is typically gluten-free, as long as it is served with gluten-free tortillas or other appropriate accompaniments.

5. Provides Satiety

The high protein content of barbacoa can help promote feelings of fullness and satisfaction, making it a satisfying meal option.



Making homemade barbacoa is easier than you might think, and the results are incredibly delicious.

By following this authentic barbacoa recipe, you can enjoy a flavorful and tender meat dish that will impress your family and friends.

Whether you serve it in tacos, burritos, or on its own, barbacoa is sure to become a favorite in your household.

Give it a try and savor the authentic flavors of Mexico!

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What is the history of barbacoa?

Barbacoa has been a traditional Mexican dish for centuries, dating back to the indigenous tribes of Mexico who would cook meat in pits dug in the ground and covered with leaves.

What are the traditional ingredients in an authentic barbacoa recipe?

The traditional ingredients in an authentic barbacoa recipe include beef cheek, garlic, onion, bay leaves, cumin, oregano, and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.

What is the best way to cook barbacoa?

The best way to cook barbacoa is to slow cook it for several hours until the meat is tender and falls apart easily. This can be done in a slow cooker, oven, or on a grill using indirect heat.

Asim Akhtar

Asim Akhtar

Asim is the CEO & founder of AtOnce. After 5 years of marketing & customer service experience, he's now using Artificial Intelligence to save people time.

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